Akina blinked in surprise as a soft knock came to the door. She slowly stood up, brushing her orange hair (that was admittedly gaining quite a few gray streaks) back. She stepped around her coffee table, making her way out of her living room and to the hall. She glanced down the hallway, listening carefully for the sound of children's footsteps. Good. Ichigo and Ashita weren't awake yet.
The woman hesitantly grabbed the doorknob with her bony, white hand. It was slightly after midnight, so she honestly had no idea who could be here at this hour. She closed her eyes, took in a deep breath, and opened the door, then, once again, blinked in surprise as she saw who was waiting for her. "Yoshi-san?"
The silver-haired woman awkwardly smiled. She looked older than Akina remembered. She had large shadows under her golden eyes. The way she held herself… it was also different. There was more weight to it. She had truly begun to live up to her role as headmistress of Gakuen Sakura, then.
"Hello, Akina-san." Her voice was soft, and had a slight crackle to it, almost as though she was coming down with a cold.
"This is unexpected. Ah... would you to come in?" the orange-haired woman asked, opening the door a bit wider.
"Thank you," Yoshi said, entering the hallway. "It's surprisingly chilly for this far south."
"It's winter, after all. Not only that, but you came here in the middle of the night," Akina said as she watched the other woman pull off her shoes. They looked to be of an expensive make, which was unsurprising for Yoshi. Akina personally preferred to wear things that she got off the clearance rack rather than the designer one.
"I suppose that might have something to do with it," Yoshi admitted.
Akina was very interested as to why the other woman was here. She had only been here once before, and that was to take her eldest daughter away. Could it be that she was planning on doing the same with Ichigo or Ashita? Oh, who was she kidding? The woman was certainly coming to take her dear children away.
"Would you like me to make you some tea?" Akina asked as she beckoned the younger woman into the living room. She nearly made her way to the kitchen after pointing her to it, but was interrupted.
"No thank you. I'm only here to talk for a little while," Yoshi said, nervously pulling on her skirt..
"I can't help but wonder what you'd like to talk about," Akina murmured, looking to her tiredly. She sat back where she had been before she was interrupted. She glanced down at her book, which, to be honest, she would much rather be reading right now rather than talking to this woman.
"I'm sure we can both guess," Yoshi responded as she took a seat on the other side of the three person couch.
The elder of the two sighed. "Ichigo and Ashita."
"I have to give them the Gakuen Sakura test. We've put it off for too long," Yoshi said, looking to the other woman seriously.
"Why? Why do we have to give them the test?" Akina asked. She grabbed onto her own hand, squeezing it tightly. She knew the answer, obviously, but she didn't want to have it be answered. Which was silly, in retrospect, considering the fact that she had asked the question in the first place.
"Because. It runs in the family," she said with a weak smile.
"You mean it runs in Daiki's family. Not mine," Akina said.
"Right..." Yoshi sighed. "Either way, they need to get tested."
"Ashita is too sick to leave. I can't let him go," Akina said. "It's hard enough to have Daiki and Midori be gone, but now you want to take away my other children as well? It's just wrong, Yoshi-san."
It honestly did make the woman sick to her stomach, sending her children away… away to that school. No, that place couldn't be described as a school. It was more of a prison than anything. The only times she would be able to see her children was during school breaks if they went now. It would be… it would be too awful.
Yoshi ran a hand through her hair, looking distressed. "Ichigo might be the key, though. If she's anything like her father, then she's a powerful little girl."
Akina sighed, giving in. "There have been a few instances of magical things, I admit it. But her father is... well, I don't obviously know. He wanted to keep me out of that world."
"Which is a good thing," Yoshi said, sounding tired. "It's a very... interesting place. I used to be grateful I was born into it, but now I pray for God to take me away from it."
Akina looked to the woman, nibbling at her bottom lip. It was true. The world that Yoshi was mixed up in was magic and science and… and… despair. So much despair. Akina never wanted to be a part of that sort of thing. It was only because Daiki had dragged her into it...
Daiki… how she missed him…
The middle aged woman shook her head, banishing all thoughts of her husband. "Well, either way, I... I'm just not sure I can let Ichigo go to your school, no matter how qualified she is. Daiki told me a lot about the Sakura family," she said.
"Then you should also know that I'm the only one who can help your children. I'm sure your husband leaving them took a huge toll on their mental wellbeing. It's best if I keep an eye on them and-" Yoshi began.
"And hurt them?" Akina stood up slowly. The lights that came from above cast shadows above her eyes, but even then she was certain that the younger woman would be able to see the intense glare on her face. "I haven't forgotten the Chi incident, you know."
Yoshi winced. "That was-"
"And what happened with Li? You ran him out of his own home," she growled.
"I would never run him-" Yoshi began, honest to goodness pain beginning to show.
"And what happened with Angelien? My daughter never got over what happened to her!"
"How on earth is any of that my fault?" Yoshi demanded, standing up as well. "Yes, I should have acted when it came to Chi, but I never did anything wrong to Li or Angelien! Li left of his own accord and Angelien... she... she was a tragedy..."
Akina shook slightly and she whispered, "Going there will hurt Ichigo. She's just a little girl. She's only in third grade. I can't let her get hurt."
"I understand. I understand that she will get hurt, but do you know what else? She'll be stronger for it. Everyone will be stronger for it. She needs to be here. For the sake of the people that she will meet, and for her own sake," Yoshi said, her voice verging on begging. "Please. Please let her take the test."
Akina took in a deep breath and closed her eyes. Finally, she nodded and said, "Be here at ten tomorrow, and get to sleep tonight. I'll let Ichigo and Ashita take the test. Maybe he can go, too, if he gets stronger."
Yoshi smiled in relief. "Thank you... thank you, Akina. This means the world to me."
The elder woman looked up to her, eyes flashing. "If you end up being the one to hurt my daughter, I hope that you know that there will be hell to pay."
Yoshi gulped before she very slowly nodded. "I understand. I'll be taking my leave, then."
Akina felt a heavy weight now on her heart as she guided the woman back to the front door. She was honestly going to send her daughter there? She was going to send her precious little baby there? She was going… to the place where all of the most hurt and broken children in the school went? She supposed that included her daughter as well. Her daughter was broken enough to go to the school full of broken children.
"I'll see you in the morning," Akina murmured as Yoshi finished slipping on her shoes. "Be careful."
Yoshi gave a small smile. "Thank you once more, Akina-san."
"Don't thank me," she said. "Just don't hurt my children and that will be enough."
Yoshi nodded once before leaving. Akina watched her go, leaning against the door frame. She looked up to the stars for a moment before closing the door behind her and leaning against it. Here it was. It was beginning. It was finally beginning.
The world as she knew it was ending
A/N- Oh gawl. First chapters are always awful. This story gets better as it goes along... at least, I hope it does.
EDIT- 04/05/2013 Frack that's a lot better wow